The 21 Best Productivity Tools to Add More Hours to Your Day

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productivity tools

If time is money, productivity is like that Apple stock you bought decades ago – it has the power to make you a very rich Scrooge McDuck.

I remember when I was younger feeling totally befuddled by the vast shelves of self-help books about time management. It all sounded like a capital snore fest. That all changes when you begin to realize just how valuable your time is; and with more ways to waste (and make really great use of) our time than ever before, we’re always looking for better ways to beat the clock.

Today I’m giving my two cents with this list of the 21 best productivity tools to make better use of your brief time here on this majestic earth. Feel free to save time and scan for what interests you – I won’t be offended.

21 Productivity Tools to Turn You Into a Time Lord

Use these productivity and time management tools and before you know it, you'll find yourself floating through space in a police call box. Best of luck productivity traveler!

For: All-In-One Organization

There are quite a few applications out there aiming to become your virtual notepad of life. Let’s take a look at a few.

ProofHub

Launched in 2011, ProofHub is a cloud based project management and collaboration tool designed to help you plan, collaborate, organize and deliver projects on time. Used by thousands of teams from all over the world, ProofHub takes the pain out of project management with its simple interface and amazing features. There’s a mobile app, too, so you can remain connected with work even when you're on the go (and who doesn't want to do that?!).

proofhub project management software

Its features include: Tasks management, Discussions, Notes, Online Proofing, Timer, Gantt Charts, Calendar, Reports, Files, and Third-Party Integrations. That last one's our personal favorite: ProofHub allos you to access Freshbooks, Google Calendar, iCal, Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Onedrive, and Outlook within its interface interface. It's a great way to keep all your scattered files in one place.

Asana

Asana markets itself as a team productivity tool, helping everyone stay on-task and organized. I kind of found it to be a more complicated version of a handwritten list. Probably not all that useful for solo workers, but if you’re on a team, Asana will help you keep all projects and tasks in one spot, assigning various users different jobs.

productivity tips

Asana is free to start, then you’ll pay $21/month for 5 team members, with the cost increasing as you add more team members.

Freedcamp

Freedcamp serves as a central spot for project planning, organization, and action. Share project to-dos, project files, and join in discussions with team members. The coolest thing about Freedcamp is that they provide a TON of functionality for free.

freedcamp

While adding team members and syncing with Google Calendar would definitely be a pro feature with other applications, Freedcamp lets you do the vast majority of activities pro bono. If there are advanced features like CRM and invoices you want to integrate, you can pay per add-ons so that you’re only paying for what you really need. I’d definitely recommend checking this one out!

For: Google Worshipers

Google Drive (and Company)

Google Drive (along with Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets) makes it easy to share and edit an array of files. Team members can even chat and share notes from within a document. It’s free, awesome, and not worth missing out on. 

google drive

Google Analytics & Google Webmaster Tools

It goes without saying, but these are necessities. Talking about productivity without talking about Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools is like talking about April without mentioning Game of Thrones. You can’t neglect the important stuff!

These online marketing tools provide ultra-valuable insight about your website’s performance, traffic, referrals, and conversions (if you set up conversion tracking…which you damn well better)! Together, these tools will help you monitor and maintain your website to ensure it is internet-optimized and Google-friendly (which are basically one and the same these days).

It's easy to get lost in the world of digital marketing. Which is why we mapped it out for you. Download the Digital Marketer's Road Map here. 

For: Mobile Mavericks 

Evernote

Evernote is a handy and versatile app that can save notes (audio and text), organize photos, set reminders, and upload attachments, all synced across your various desktop and mobile devices. Plus, Evernote’s bookmarklet makes it easy to clip web articles and store them for later reading. If you’re constantly jumping devices, this one is for you.

best productivity tools

For: Social Media Masterminds

HootSuite

An oldie but a goodie, HootSuite is tremendously helpful when managing various social media accounts. Monitor all your social activity across networks in one easy-to-use dashboard which lets you schedule posts, delegate social assignments to team members, organize Twitter lists and followers, measure performance, and more.

hootsuite

Buffer

Buffer makes it extraordinarily easy to share web articles via social media without headache and hassle. Simply log into Buffer, connect social media accounts, and schedule specific content sharing times. When you’re out and about surfing the web and see an article you know your followers will love, hit the Buffer bookmarklet button and Buffer will throw that article into your queue, which it will then share at one of your designated share times.

buffer

Buffer helps promote great content across the web and helps you store and share content so you don’t cram articles down the throats of your followers all at once.

IFTTT

IFTTT, standing for If This Then That, lets you craft “recipes” that allow for various apps and services to connect and work together. For example, I can create an IFTTT recipe that automatically uploads my Instagram photos to my Google Drive account.  Create awesome integration with zero programming experience! If you can think it, you can IFTTT it.

ifttt

IFTTT can be utilized in endless combinations, and not just with regards to social media. However, social media users will find this an essential tool in their social shed.

For: Time Tracking

Toggl

Toggl is a simple time tracker tool – just click the Toggl button and your timer begins! It’s a super simple, super easy way to track the time it takes to complete various tasks. Toggl also lets you look at reports and see how much time you spent on different projects throughout the week.

toggl

Rescue Time

Rescue Time is a similar concept to Toggl, but offers more advanced features.

Rescue Time can be installed on your computer and will track what programs and websites you spend the most time on. It’s a pretty incredible tool, showing not only where you’re spending your time, but also what hours are your least/most productive, along with your best and worst days of the week (and month).

The Premium upgrade lets you block out distracting sites and offers even more filters. Still, the free version packs an impressive amount of insight. Try Rescue Time and see how you can make yourself more productive!

time tracking tools

For: Copywriting

ODesk / ELance

Sometimes the best man for the job is someone who is not you. Heck, probably pretty often the best man for the job isn’t you. Maybe because you aren’t even a man; maybe you’re a carrot. Who knows?

If you need to get going with blogging content (and trust me, you do, because everyone does), then ODesk and ELance are decent places to start.

These sites are free to sign up with, then you provide them with 10% of each payment per project. Alternatively, scour LinkedIn for freelancers. Usually you can get a decent assessment of a freelancer’s skill level by checking out their profile and doing a little digging. Whichever path you take, just remember that copy can’t be done single-handedly, so don’t be afraid to hire out some help.

odesk

Hemingway

Back when I was compiling a list of the best content marketing tools, one WordStream commenter (thanks Nicole!) made a suggestion of trying out Hemingway – it’s a great little tool that checks your grammar and highlights potential sentence danger zones as you write. Give it a type!

hemingway

For: Account Overload

LastPass

LastPass provides a modern miracle for users who are sick and tired of constantly struggling to remember passwords (and subsequently resetting most of them every time they log in). LastPass remembers all your passwords, like an angel Jiminy Cricket. One LastPass can be used across several devices, storing various passwords in your vault and auditing your passwords in order to help you create better, more secure passwords (since you no longer have to remember KLBTU6@34).

lastpass

I know, it sounds too good to be true, but LastPass does seem to be pretty secure. Recommended by Lifehacker, CNet, and with a straight 5-star rating from PC Magazine, it’s safe to say that LastPass keeps you safe. LastPass uses multifactor authentication for your single master password, helping all your data stay all aboard.

Note: You’ll get plenty with the free version (and yes, the free version is still ultra-secure), but the best features (adding employees to certain password folders, mobile syncing, etc.) are for paying customers.

For: Pressing PR Matters

Google Alerts

Keep instant tabs on when your business or brand is mentioned anywhere on the web. Not only is this handy for keeping track of PR, but it’s also a great way to make sure that you’re getting links from anyone who mentions you biz. 

productivity tools

For: Email Overwhelm

SaneBox

SaneBox analyzes your past and ongoing email activity to deduce, in a very Sherlock-esque manner, which emails matter to you and which don’t. SaneBox will move the less important emails into the @SaneLater folder that magically appears in your inbox, storing them for retrieval when you have a spare minute. You know, that spare minute when you say to yourself, “let’s take a look at more junk I probably don’t care about.”

Ultimately, the issue is that by hiding away “unimportant” (although notably not completely unimportant, otherwise you’d just unsubscribe) messages to the gloomy email moors, you risk never seeing them. But considering how inundated most of us are with spam and flash sales, we’d probably embrace sending them straight to the incinerator.

sanebox

Unroll.Me

Unroll.Me neatens up your inbox by compiling all your newsletters (which you select) into one rolled up email bundle that you can open and scan when you feel like it.

Unroll.Me helps hide email clutter and also lists out all of your email subscriptions (beware, this can get pretty gruesome). Use the Unroll.Me unsubscribe option to kick some of those suffocating newsletters to the curb.

email productivity

For: Chrome Users

StayFocused

StayFocused is a free Chrome extension that restricts the amount of time you are allowed to spend on “time-wasting websites” like Facebook. The tool is ultra-customizable – choose which websites (or specific pages) to block, how long to block them for, etc.

Chrome to Mobile

This Chrome extension let’s you move webpages and other stuff you’re working on directly to your phone, so you can continue your efforts easily when on the move.

For: News & Blog Junkies

Podkicker

If you’re a podcast addict, you’ll want a podcast app to help you organize your subscriptions. I’ve been using Podkicker for years and really enjoy its simple, easy-to-use interface. It’s free, but you can also update to Podkicker Pro (to get rid of ads) for $2.

Pocket

Pocket is a sweet little app that lets you save awesome content (articles, images, videos, etc.) to check out later.

Picture this: you’re surfing around researching and see a fun article about the all-time best Pokemon (Arcanine, duh). Hit the Pocket button in your bookmark toolbar and the article will go straight to your Pocket. Pocket syncs across devices so you that later on you can read those fun articles and watch YouTube videos of mini pot-bellied pigs during the train ride home.

top productivity tools

For: Visual Organizers

Trello

Trello is a cute, relatively simple and handy way to stay organized. It looks a lot like a Pinterest board, but instead of being totally photo-centric, Trello lets you add lists, labels, and tasks that you can drag, drop, and play with at your leisure. While it’s nothing revolutionary, it could be just the thing for visual organizers and serves as a nice alternative to covering your monitor in post-it notes.

trello

Bonus Productivity Tips

Bonus advice activated! Here are some general productivity tips to get you going.

  • Learn Keyboard Shortcuts. Shortcuts can save you oodles of time, so if you spent many an hour in Microsoft Word or Adobe Photoshop, take the time to learn major shortcuts. Soon they’ll become part of your muscle memory and you’ll wonder how you ever got on without them!
  • Clean Up That Computer. If you’re like me, then you’re a total tab monster, your desktop is covered in screenshots, and your computer rarely shuts down completely. All these semi-small issues amount to one big problem for your poor struggling computer. Tidy things up, empty the trash once in a while, and let the tuckered little thing sleep at night. A faster computer means a faster you, so don’t neglect the simple fixes.
  • Old School Lists. Despite all the awesome tools we covered here today, there is something unique about writing down a good ol’ fashioned list. The physical aspect of handwriting a task list (and crossing out those to-dos) can be quite cathartic. Not everything needs to be digitized my friends.
  • Don’t Burn Yourself Out. Contrary to what corporate may think, you just can’t be a productive machine 9-5 all day, every day. Our brains don’t work that way, and trying to activate robot mode will only hamper you in the long run. Humans actually achieve their maximum productivity when they’re happy and getting plenty of down time throughout the day. Read up on the Pomodoro Technique and make sure you are building regular respites in your day so you don’t fry your circuits.
  • Be Realistic About Time Management. Structuring your day into time blocks is a great way to go into a new day feeling confident. However, being unrealistic about how long it will take you to finish that e-mail newsletter won’t do you any favors. Give yourself plenty of time to get tasks done (and include breaks!)

That concludes our list of top personal and business productivity tools! May they lead to a speedier, more efficient you. Do you have any awesome productivity tools or time management tools you want to recommend that we didn’t call out here? Share your faves in the comments below.

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Comments

Mobile App Development Services
Mar 27, 2015

Freedcamp is awesome because i need those sticky notes everyday to remember the things. Thanks for sharing

Jeremy
Mar 27, 2015

Thanks for the useful information Megan!

Would love an article for conversion/link tracking for newbs if WordStream hasn't written one already.

Or if you have written one for newbs already, an article for intermediate training in conversion/link tracking... I really need something where I can generate simple codes/pixels that are stupid-simple to install (I barely know html) to track all my affiliate links, CTRs, where people bounce from a website, conversions, etc... and to do that all in one place with one login...if something like that exists.

Lastly Megan, where is the share button to share this article?

Elisa Gabbert
Mar 27, 2015

They're right there on the left! :)

Phobe
Mar 27, 2015

Evernote is quite good for taking notes, use it on my mobile to manage private life and Efficient To Do List on desktop to make to do list and track the progress, which is for a better cooperation with my business partner

Himali
Mar 31, 2015

Great post! Another productivity tool I would like to add is Brightpod. It takes the entire campaign planning & collaboration process online so you don't miss anything.

Donald Soolar
Apr 05, 2015

Saw this on B2C. Learned a lot from this post.

deepika agarwal
Apr 07, 2015

I learned a lot from thsi list.Really an informative blog.
Thanks

Sezgin
Apr 29, 2015

Really like the article. Some of the tools I have never used before.

Cheers!

Ved Raj
Jun 03, 2015

I would like to add two more in this list. These are my personal favorites

1. Hivedesks - It is an important tool to track productivity of the remote employees.
2. WorkSnaps - This tool automatically takes screenshot every ten minutes, logs keyboard strokes and also the mouse movements.
3. MySammy - This web tool displays a bar graph that shows active time in green and nonproductive time in red.

Business productivity
Jun 08, 2015

Megan, thank you for this information. Very useful productivity tools for delegating task in a team environments. At the end of the day, all way want is positive results.

Mia
Jul 04, 2015

Being a project manager I have tried several tools as much you mentioned in your list, We were using asana before but seemed like not good fit for us, Then I tried trello, It was good but if you have requirements, Then I discover proofhub which we are using right now at our workplace. I really liked this tool. Its kinda alternative to basecamp, Much like it but with more advanced features. Thanks for sharing useful resources with us.

Nick Waan
Jul 23, 2015

A good list, thanks. I myself use a time tracking app, Yaware.TimeTracker

daniel kelli
Jun 15, 2016

Seem like you have reaped great benefits.

TedM
Aug 04, 2015

I too use Hivedesk with two remote team members. It's simple, straightforward, and cheap. As the account holder I get to use it for free, and pay only US$5 for each remote worker that I collaborate with.

Daniel Pawlak
Aug 14, 2015

These are some fantastic resources! Personally a huge fan of:
1. Pocket: I'm that guy who always has 20+ tabs open. Pocket helps me save a lot of reading for later and tabs to a minimum
2. Trello: This has been a LIFESAVER. Really simple way to manage teams and prioritize tasks, I recommend this over anything else (Asana, GDrive, etc)
3. Evernote: No productivity list is complete without it. An absolute must which helps keep keep all notes organized.

I recently found an article with some more awesome productivity resources for offices and teams: http://www.snacknation.com/blog/office-management-tools/ Enjoy and hope it helps!

Mort
Sep 15, 2015

Really, really like this list!

Does anyone have a tip for information store and finding tools? Not SharePoint or a big CMS system, but something easier that works?

Tom79
Dec 05, 2015

I recently switched from Pocket to Tagpacker to organize my articles, images, videos etc.
To-Dos I manage with Wunderlist

Kim Marfil
Jan 05, 2016

Great list! There are lots of time tracking tools that you can use while working with some of these project management tools listed here such as Asana and you can try Hubstaff. If you find it relevant to track and manage your time while working, I suggest you try Hubstaff. I really find their time tracking service really good!

Faisal Wahab Khan
Mar 30, 2016

Cool list. I think trello pretty much tops the list. I am a mobile person so I pretty much use most of these apps on my smartphone.

Jerry Carwyn
Apr 25, 2016

Great article, thanks. I didn't know about SaneBox, I will definitely try it out. As an entrepreneur i'm always trying to manage my time in the best way possible. What I have found to be the ultimate productivity hack is to setup a personalized browser start page with all the links and RSS feeds I frequently use. I'm using https://start.me for this and it saves me a few hours per week easily.

Eric McCarver
May 18, 2016

I like feedly pretty well for keeping myself up to date on websites I like to follow. Also been using Ctitch for keeping all of my notes, to-do lists, bookmarks, and daily schedule together, along with just collections of interesting web articles and videos.

Samesh
May 21, 2016

Excellent post

garcinia forte dr oz
Jun 03, 2016

I was recommended this website through my cousin. I am no longer sure whether this put up is written by him as
nobody else understand such distinctive about my problem.
You are incredible! Thank you!

Define
Jul 01, 2016

Thanks for the post/ Personally i can also advice you to try TMetric for effective time management. It’s completely free, easy and solves time tracking problem very well. I like it.

Bizgojo
Jul 14, 2016

Extremely informative article. We are launching Bizgojo, a new productivity management tool that helps individuals as well as teams manage their tasks and time more effectively. And it's free!

Patti
Aug 19, 2016

Hi,
anyone know of a tool that organizes articles, links etc. for several users and is also searchable? thx

Nandini Sharma
Sep 12, 2016

Interesting selection. For collaboration and task management I would also add ProofHub. ProofHub brings a blend of amazing productivity features that teams can use to run their day, their projects and their work-life. Tasks, Online discussions, Group chat, Reports, Gantt Charts, Proofing tool, Calendar, Timer, Timesheets, Quickies and what not; everything you need to bring teams together, collaborate and get projects delivered on time is available within this single tool. Take a look at https://www.proofhub.com/

Utpal Konwar
Nov 19, 2016

Awesome dude Great post sharing .. really help for me ... thnks

Hitesh Aasnani
Dec 01, 2016

Nice article! For me Productivity is nothing but doing things more efficiently, timely and getting most of your time.

So you need time and focus to work. While there are these tools which you use to manage time and work, streamline things in life to make the most of it. A simple problem is that you get use to these tools and there are too many of them. One to manage tasks, one to communicate, one to organize day and activities like to-do list and others are like work related tools for designers it can be dropbox to share and keep their files for coders github to manage code etc etc.

Gridle.io is a tool that brings all of it in one place and integrates with the tools you already use so you don't waste time juggling between tools and work hassle free.

At last its always on you. A prepared mind can make you super productive, while the tools are just there to help!

Julian
Dec 13, 2016

There are some individuals that are very familiar to work in chaotic organizations, so I guess this post can help them to become more organized and productive by taking advantage of some of the great tool reviewed.

However, I don't think neither of the extremes are the best solution, too much organized vs working in the chaos. Being too picky about planning the day, week and year ahead can make the plans to change, as we live in a time where uncertainty is ahead. Furthermore, tools and too much planning work can add extra overhead.

In my case, I use to pick the tools that helped me to be more organized and try to be productive without losing the focus of "working" or "action". Even if I must admit I tended to be less organized than the average.

Sharon Thomson
Feb 23, 2017

That’s a good list but I’m surprised you haven’t included ProofHub in the list. We’ve been using ProofHub since quite some time now and I would be glad to recommend proofhub.com to all project managers. Its a great tool which effectively speeds up processes and makes handling projects an extremely easy task!

Denis
Mar 31, 2017

I use TMetric in all my remote projects and this is THE tool I was looking for. Every imaginable feature you need for an easy and productive work, you can find in TMetric.

Prathik
May 26, 2017

I use DrumUp https://drumup.io/ to help manage all my social media accounts. Their group scheduling and suggestions features are particularly useful.

Petr
Jun 06, 2017

Great list. A lot of those tools are team-based. If you are "just" a freelancer, try Tomatoid (https://tomatoid.com). It combines to-dos, time tracking and Pomodoro technique.

Jane Brewis
Jun 26, 2017

I have a site with effective time saving tools

Patrick
Oct 01, 2017

Thanks so much for this timely review. My personal favorites are:
i. Hootsuite
ii. Toggl
iii. Trello

I have realized I waste a lot of time online on social media platforms, I will try out Rescue Time to see if it will help save me some hours. Thanks again

Christian
Nov 15, 2017

Nice post! I use remail.io and can't recommend it more highly. Remail has improved the efficiency of my team. There are other services that provide the same and I suggest you try them and see what works better for you but for us, remail is definitely the best one.

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